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This Week in WAC Volleyball - Aug. 23
Courtesy: Hawai‘i
The 2010 volleyball season opens this Friday, Aug. 27, with all nine WAC teams competing in tournaments. Two of the teams – Fresno State (Fresno State Classic) and Hawai‘i (Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational) – are hosting tournaments, while Boise State (Air Force Tournament), Idaho (Washington State Classic), Louisiana Tech (Arkansas State Tournament), Nevada (Missouri Tournament), New Mexico State (Florida State Tournament), San Jose State (North Dakota Tournament) and Utah State (Utah Tournament) take to the road to start the 2010 campaign.

The WAC volleyball coaches selected Hawai‘i to win its 15th-straight WAC regular-season crown in 2010. The Rainbow Wahine received eight of the nine first-place votes with New Mexico State earning the other first-place vote.

Hawai‘i earned 64 total points followed by New Mexico State with 57. Fresno State was picked to finish third with 44 points, followed by Utah State in fourth with 38 points. Boise State was picked fifth with 35 points, while Idaho was selected sixth with 32 points, just ahead of Nevada with 30 points in seventh place. Louisiana Tech and San Jose State rounded out the poll with 15 and nine points, respectively.

Hawai‘i is coming off a 32-3 season in 2009 that saw the Rainbow Wahine earn their 14th-consecutive WAC regular-season title with a perfect 16-0 record. Hawai‘i also captured its 10th WAC Tournament title and advanced to the national semifinals for the ninth time in school history.

Hawai‘i junior Kanani Danielson was the unanimous pick for WAC Preseason Player of the Year. It is the sixth-straight season that a Rainbow Wahine player has earned the preseason honor with All-Americans Kanoe Kamana`o (2005, 2006), Jamie Houston (2007, 2008) and Danielson (2009, 2010) each earning the honor in back-to-back years.

New Mexico State placed the most players on the preseason all-WAC team with four, while Hawai‘i had three and Nevada had two. Joining Danielson on the preseason team are teammates Brittany Hewitt and Dani Mafua, New Mexico State’s Kelsey Brennan, Jennah DeVries, Kayleigh Giddens and Whitney Woods, Nevada’s Lindsay Baldwin and Kylie Harrington, Boise State’s Sadie Maughan, Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke and Idaho’s Kelsey Taylor.

All but one member of the preseason all-WAC team was named to the 2009 all-WAC team. Seven members were first team all-WAC honorees a year ago (Brennan, Danielson, DeVries, Giddens, Harrington, Mafua and Woods), while four 2009 second-team honorees are on the team (Baldwin, Clarke, Hewitt and Maughan).

Hawai‘i was ranked No. 5 in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches Poll. Meanwhile, New Mexico State received votes in the poll.

The Rainbow Wahine received 1,166 points. Last season, Hawai‘i finished ranked No. 3 in the final AVCA poll, posting a 32-3 record and advancing to the national semifinals, where it fell to eventual national champion Penn State.

WAC teams play 15 non-conference matches against teams ranked in the Top 25 and 13 against teams that are receiving votes in the poll. Four of Hawai‘i’s opponents are ranked in the Top 25 and five other opponents are receiving votes. Meanwhile, the Aggies face three teams ranked in the Top 25 and three teams that are receiving votes in the poll.

Of the 12 first-team all-WAC players in 2009, seven return for the 2010 season, led by reigning Player of the Year Kanani Danielson. Also returning from the first team are Kelsey Brennan, Jennah DeVries, Kayleigh Giddens and Whitney Woods of New Mexico State, Nevada’s Kylie Harrington and Dani Mafua of Hawai‘i.

Eight of the second-team all-WAC performers should return this season, including Sadie Maughan, Breann Nesselhuf and Alisha Young of Boise State. The other returning second-team honorees are Lindsay Baldwin of Nevada, Brianna Clarke of Fresno State, Liz McArthur of Utah State, and Brittany Hewitt and Elizabeth Ka’aihue of Hawai‘i.

The following are the returning statistical leaders in the WAC from the 2009 season.

In hitting efficiency, six of the top 10 hitters are back, led by Hawai‘i’s Brittany Hewitt (.343), who ranked second in the league a year ago. New Mexico State’s Kelsey Brennan (.319), who ranked third last year, also returns. The remaining leaders are Utah State’s Katie Astle (.315 - fourth) and Shantell Durrant (.305 - sixth), Hawai‘i’s Kanani Danielson (.314 - fifth), and Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke (.292 - eighth).

Six of the top 10 kill leaders, including the top two, are back for the 2010 season. Hawai‘i’s Kanani Danielson leads the way with 4.23 kills per set, followed by New Mexico State’s Kayleigh Giddens in second with a 4.00 average. Utah State’s Liz McArthur ranked fourth last year with 3.80 kills per set, followed by Nevada’s Kylie Harrington in fifth with a 3.55 average. Boise State’s Alisha Young was seventh, averaging 2.72 kps, while New Mexico State’s Whitney Woods rounds out the returning leaders in ninth place with 2.66 kps.

Seven of the top assist leaders from last season return for the 2010 campaign. Hawai‘i’s Dani Mafua is the top setter to return, finishing last season first in the WAC (11.78 aps). Jennah DeVries of New Mexico State was third in assists, averaging 10.14 aps, followed by Utah State’s Chelsea Fowles (9.77 -third) and Boise State’s Breann Nesselhuf (8.66 - fourth). The remaining leaders are Louisiana Tech’s Bianca Bin (8.16 - sixth), San Jose State’s Caitlin Andrade (8.04 - seventh) and Idaho’s Jennifer Feicht (5.66 - 10th).

Seven of the top blockers return, led by Hawai‘i’s Brittany Hewitt, who was third with 1.33 blocks per set. Fresno State’s Brianna Clarke was fourth, averaging 1.30 blocks per set, followed by New Mexico State’s Kelsey Brennan (1.17 bps - fifth). The remaining block returners are Louisiana Tech’s Kara Jones (1.15 - seventh), NM State’s Whitney Woods (1.09 - eighth), Utah State’s Shantell Durrant (1.07 - ninth) and Nevada’s Lindsay Baldwin (1.07 - 10th).

Four of the top 10 servers return, led by Utah State’s Chelsea Fowles in third with 0.32 per set. Louisiana Tech’s Kassia Pinto was sixth, averaging 0.27 saps, followed by San Jose State’s Caitlin Andrade (0.27 - seventh). Rounding out the group is Utah State’s Liz McArthur (0.24 - 10th).

Six of the 10 dig leaders return for the 2010 season, led by Utah State’s Christine Morrill in first place with 4.63 digs per set. Fresno State’s Kelly Mason was third, averaging 3.86 dps, followed by Nevada’s Nicole Link (3.84 - fourth) and Hawai‘i’s Elizabeth Ka’aihue (3.77 - fifth). Rounding out the group are Louisiana Tech’s Lori Hunsucker (3.66 - seventh) and Boise State’s Amanda Remy (3.03 - 10th).

The 2010 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held Nov. 22-24 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., and will include the top six teams in the regular-season standings. The championship match will be televised live on ESPNU.

All-session tickets are $45 and can be purchased through each institution’s ticket office. For more information on the WAC Volleyball Tournament, visit

Monday, Nov. 22 (Quarterfinals)
No. 3 Seed vs. No. 6 Seed, 5 p.m.   
No. 4 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 23 (Semifinals)
Winner Match 1 vs. No. 2 seed, 5 p.m.
Winner Match 2 vs. No. 1 Seed, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 24 (Championship)
Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

ESPNU will televise four regular-season matches this season and five total, as it will also air the championship match of the WAC Tournament.

The complete schedule of 2010 WAC volleyball matches that will air on ESPNU is listed below.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, Hawai‘i at New Mexico State, 8 p.m. (MT)
Wednesday, Oct. 6, Utah State at Idaho, 7 p.m. (PT)
Thursday, Oct. 21, Hawai‘i at Idaho, 8 p.m. (PT)
Monday, Oct. 25, Hawai‘i at Utah State, 8 p.m. (MT)
Wednesday, Nov. 25, WAC Tournament Championship Match, 6:30 p.m. (PT)

The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee announced the following sites for regional and semifinal/championship competition of the 2010 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships.

Regionals (4): Dec. 10-11, 2010
Host: University of Washington
Bank of America Arena

Host: Penn State University
Rec Hall
University Park, Pa.

Host: University of Texas at Austin
Gregory Gymnasium
Austin, Texas
Host: University of Dayton
University of Dayton Arena
Dayton, Ohio

Semifinals and Championship: Dec. 16 and 18, 2010
Co-Hosts: University of Missouri, Kansas City and Greater Kansas City Sports Commission
Sprint Center
Kansas City, Mo.

The Broncos return nine players from the 2009 roster ... Last season, Boise State earned its highest finish in WAC history, placing third at the WAC Tournament ... The Broncos hope to improve on their 8-22 record from 2009, feeding off their second-half of the season where they went 8-11 ... The team’s 7-9 WAC record was the most conference wins by the Broncos since 1998, when they finished 11-5 in the Big West ... The Broncos return their team leaders in the major stat categories in Alisha Young (291 kills), Sadie Maughan (.244 hitting percentage, 111 blocks), Lauren Hamm (21 aces) and Amanda Remy (306 digs) ... Liz Harden earned the first WAC All-Freshman Team honor in school history in 2009 ... Boise State opens the season at the Air Force Tournament, where it will face South Dakota State, Long Island and Air Force.

Fresno State returns two all-WAC athletes from a year ago in Brianna Clarke and Kelly Leonardo, both second team honorees ... Marissa Brand was named to the WAC All-Freshman team in 2009, marking the sixth straight year a Bulldog appeared on the team ... Fresno State won 15 matches and tied for fourth in the WAC regular-season standings last year ... The Bulldogs defeated Nevada in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament ... Clarke ranked in the top 30 in the NCAA for all of last season in blocks and finished the year with a 1.30 average ... Fresno State set a school record for average attendance last season with nearly 1,600 fans per match, good for 21st place nationally ... The Bulldogs open the season by hosting the Fresno State Classic this weekend. They will face UC Riverside, Santa Clara and Oregon.

Hawai‘i returns three starters and its libero from the 2009 team that went 32-3 and advanced to the national semifinals ... AVCA first team All-American Kanani Danielson returns for her junior season. Danielson is the WAC Preseason Player of the Year, the reigning WAC Player of the Year and earned five WAC Player of the Week honors in 2009 ... Also returning is setter Dani Mafua, an AVCA honorable mention All-American and first team all-WAC pick last season, WAC Freshman of the Year Brittany Hewitt and libero Elizabeth Ka‘aihue, a second team all-WAC honoree in 2009 ... Hawai‘i won its 14th straight WAC regular-season title and 10th straight WAC Tournament championship last year ... The Rainbow Wahine open the season with the Chevron Invitational, where they host San Diego, Kansas State and UCLA.

The Vandals return two starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s team ... Kelsey Taylor is Idaho’s only senior ... The Vandals have six newcomers on the roster, in addition to Allison Walker and Miranda Pratt, who will play the 2010 season after redshirting in 2009 ... The Vandals have finished 11-5 and in third place in the WAC in each of the last two seasons ... Idaho has advanced to the WAC Tournament in each of its five seasons as a member of the league ... Idaho has led the WAC in total blocks and blocks per set for the last two years, and led the nation in blocks per set (3.23) in 2009 ... The Vandals lost three first-team all-WAC players to graduation after the 2009 season ... Idaho opens the season at the Washington State Classic, where it will face Weber State, UC Irvine and the host Cougars.

Louisiana Tech lost just one starter from last year’s team that won 15 matches, the most since winning 15 in 2005 ... Tech’s four conference victories in 2009 tied the program record for WAC wins as it had only recorded four WAC wins in the past five seasons combined ... KC Clayton, Kara Jones and Nataliya Panova were named all-Louisiana by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association last year, the most Techsters on one team since 2002 ... Last year, Jones led the WAC in solo blocks with 32. In addition, her 131 total blocks tied for second in Tech’s single-season record books ... Lori Hunsucker ranked third in the WAC last season in total digs with 447, good for fifth all-time at Tech ... Louisiana Tech opens the season at the Arkansas State Invitational, where it will face Northwestern State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the host Red Wolves.

Nevada returns five starters, its starting libero, and 10 letterwinners from last year’s team ... Included in that group are a pair of seniors who earned all-WAC honors in Kylie Harrington, a first team selection, and Lindsay Baldwin, a second team honoree ... The team also returns Elissa Ji, an All-Freshman Team selection ... Baldwin (1,038) and Harrington (947.5) rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in career points at Nevada ... Nicole Link’s 430 digs last season is the second-best total in school history and her 1,014 career digs ranks eighth ... Link’s 30 digs vs. Cal State Bakersfield and 29 vs. Utah State last year are the fourth and fifth best match totals, respectively, in Pack history ... The Wolf Pack open the season at the Tiger Invitational, where they face Utah Valley, Maryland and host Missouri.

New Mexico State went 20-9 last year, while finishing second in the WAC with a 13-3 conference record ... The Aggies finished the 2009 season going 8-2 in the last 10 matches of the year, including an upset of then-No. 23 Colorado State to close out the season ... NM State placed five players on the all-WAC teams in 2009. Kayleigh Giddens, Whitney Woods, Jennah DeVries and Kelsey Brennan earned first team all-WAC honors, while Erin Birmingham earned second team honors ... NM State ranked second in the WAC in opponent hitting percentage (.158), hitting percentage (.216), assists per set (12.70), kills per set (13.89) and blocks per set (2.66) ... The Aggies open the season at the FSU Invitational, where they will face Florida International, Florida A&M and host Florida State.

San Jose State returns six starters and nine letterwinners from last year’s team ... Included in that group are Alex Akana and Caitlin Andrade, both of whom earned WAC All-Freshman honors last year ... Andrade recorded the 12th triple-double in school history last year with 32 assists, 12 digs and 10 kills in a three-set match against Saint Mary’s on Sept. 9 ... Taylor Japhet returns for her second season after leading the team in kills with 249 last year ... Last season, 10 Spartans received Academic all-WAC honors, the most in one season for the team in school history ... The Spartans add outside hitters Hannah Blume and Sarah Greist to the roster this season.  Both have participated in the USA High Performance Championships ... San Jose State opens the season at the UND Tournament, where it will face Gonzaga, Drake and North Dakota.

Utah State returns six starters, plus its libero, from last year’s team that went 15-14 and finished in seventh in the WAC with a 6-10 league record ... Among those returning is Liz McArthur, who earned second team all-WAC honors in 2009 ... USU has four other returnees who have received all-WAC accolades as Chelsea Fowles, Katie Astle and Christine Morrill were all named second team all-WAC in 2008, and  Emily Kortsen was named to the league’s all-freshman team in 2008 ... Last season, Utah State ranked third in the WAC in hitting percentage (.204) and service aces (1.24), fourth in assists (11.21), kills (12.18) and blocks (2.37), and eighth in digs (13.30) ... Morrill recorded 531 digs as a junior, which ranks second all-time for a single season at USU ... Utah State opens the season at the Utah Classic, where it will face UC Davis and Utah.
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